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In a civil law suit--car accident, --what is the legal difference between a Final Release and a Settlement Agreement?

San Francisco, CA |

When a civil law suit settles--car accident--do the parties typically sign a settlement agreement, or do they sign a release or both?

Attorney Answers 10


  1. The type of release is dependent on the type of case. Once a personal injury case is settled, there is normally a settlement agreement and release of all known and unknown claims.


  2. Generally only the plaintiff signs a release. It may be captioned "Final Release," "Settlement Agreement," or something else. The title doesn't matter nearly so much as the release language.


  3. Your attorney can explain the particulars as it applies to your case.

    Personal injury cases only; I'm good at it; you be the Judge! All information provided is for informational and educational purposes only. No attorney client relationship has been formed or should be inferred. Please speak with a local and qualified attorney. I truly wish you and those close to you all the best. Jeff


  4. It's essentially the same thing. In a litigation case, it will be a final release and settlement agreement all in one. For a settlement prior to litigation with the adverse insurance company, it will probably be called a release of all claims, but is essentially the same thing and operates at law the same way.


  5. Those are pretty much just different terms for the same document. Different ins. cos. call them different things.


  6. They're pretty much the same, but don't sign it unless you are done with medical treatment and 100%.

    I live and work in California and deal with accidents like yours all the time, so I am happy to answer your question. Your gut instinct is right that you have questions regarding your rights and your case. I've handled a good amount of accident cases and know that insurance companies give cases like yours a hard time even if the police report finds the other person at fault. You should hire an attorney now before you hurt your case (happens unfortunately very often). You should hire a lawyer to help you out with the claim because regardless of the outcome of the police report insurance companies give unrepresented people a tough time. I've handled cases and referred clients to great doctors in the San Francisco, CA area.

    At our firm we always refer clients to all kinds of doctors and chiropractors when our clients are injured and our clients never pay anything upfront, not even a copay. The doctors are willing to do this because an attorney is on board. You are entitled to have your property damage, medical bills and future medical expenses PAID FOR BY THE OTHER PARTY'S INSURANCE (or your uninsured motorist policy). The attorney you hire will handle the claims process from start to finish.

    But you are going to need to see a specliast to even get a shot at getting future medical treatment from the Defenedant. Moreover it sounds like the accident is completely the other persons fault so you don't want this case to become a difficult one because of lack of inattention. The insurance company will make you believe that your case is worth very little... Regarding pain and suffering, you need to speak to an experienced attorney that can strategize your case. Just because you were in an accident doesn't mean you have pain and suffering, at least thats what the insurance companies think. Make no doubt about it you have a great case, but you need help from a professional. You are entitled to your medical bills being covered as well.

    Do you feel that you are at the same medical condition that you were before the accident? As a basic premise I wouldn't handle your claim by yourself. The attorney you hired can likely refer you to a doctor, if you ask for one, who will see you with no upfront payment! I've done this many times to help my clients out. You should not wait a single day to hire a lawyer, we will advise you on the strategy of your case. There is no upfront cost to hire an attorney.

    With a case like yours it seems like you have some good facts in order to get a high settlement, but your case definitely needs to be developed further to corroborate your story. The most important thing when building your case are: liability (were you at fault); how bad are your injuries to your body. A lot of these things sound like they are not complete yet in your case so its something that is worth hiring an attorney for in order to get a sense of whether you have a case and what the strategy would be for you to build a strong case! I've handled cases and/or spoken to clients in the San Francisco, CA area.

    Its very possible that your case is worth more than the $$$ that the insurance company will offer you by yourself. Make your life easier and call an attorney today, you won't regret it.

    I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference


  7. You say tomato, I say tomato...same diff


  8. No difference.


  9. They are pretty much the same and legally enforceable if executed by all involved parties.


  10. There is an overlap. Most of the time a release is enough (where I practice, NY) sometimes they want a settlement agreement also, but a release is always in the picture. They can be combined into one document as well. The "release" says "We're done. I'm taking the deal and will make no further claim." The settlement agreement can add other terms, typically: "we don't admit fault, this is a compromise of a disputed and doubtful claim, if you owe anyone money that's your problem not ours, you can't tell anyone about this and stop hating on us on the 'net"

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